HARBIN - Clues that may lead to the whereabouts of a tiger that has allegedly roamed into China after being set free by Russian President Vladimir Putin were spotted in northeast China's Heilongjiang Province, said local forestry authorities.
Hair, feces and tracks possibly left by the tiger were discovered in areas where the beast is suspected to have travelled in the vast forest area of the Lesser Hinggan Mountain, according to Zhang Shusen, an official with the provincial forestry industry bureau.
Further investigation will determine whether the findings belong to "Kuzya", who was released into the wild, along with two other Siberian tigers, by Putin in May, Zhang said.
He added that Siberian tiger experts arrived in the area to facilitate tracking, locating and protecting the tiger.
The official said the bureau was informed by Russia on Friday that the big cat, tagged with a tracking device, had left Heilongjiang's Luobei region where it was previously observed and moved to the northwestern part of the Lesser Hinggan Mountain.
For Kuzya's safety, its precise location will not be disclosed to the public, Zhang said.
Fewer than 500 Siberian tigers remain in the wild, mainly in eastern Russia, northeast China and northern parts of the Korean Peninsula. China puts its own number of wild Siberian tigers between 18 and 22, mostly living in the border areas.